All praise be to Allah Alone and peace and blessings be upon the one after whom there will be no prophet.I have read the question sent to his Eminence, the President of the Committee,
by the General Secretary of the Union of Muslim Students (FASM) in Holland, which was referred to the Committee from the General Secretariat of the Council of Senior Scholars. The text of the question is as follows:We hope that you can provide us with the necessary Fatwa to enable
the determining of the times of the Maghrib (Sunset), `Isha' (Night), and Fajr (Dawn) Prayers, and also the determining of the first day of Ramadan and the first day of `Eid-ul-Fitr (the Festival of Breaking the Fast). The way the sun rises and sets in the countries of Northern Europe and those that are close to the North Pole is different from the way it rises and sets in the eastern Muslim countries. This is due to the timing of the disappearance of the red and white twilights. In summer, for example, the white twilight lasts almost the whole night, which makes it difficult to determine the time of the `Isha' and likewise the Fajr Prayers.
The Council of Senior Scholars in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia issued a statement to explain how the times of the Salah (prayer) should be determined and how the beginning of the dawn and end of each day should be determined in Ramadan in countries such as yours. This is what it said: (Part No. 6; Page No. 131) After examining, studying, and discussing the matter, the Council decided the following:
Anyone who lives in a country where the night can be distinguished from the day by the appearance of the dawn and the setting of the sun, and where the day is extremely long in the summer and extremely short in the winter, it is obligatory upon them to perform the five obligatory prayers in the known times specified by Shari`ah (Islamic law). This is based on what Allah (Exalted be He) says:
Perform As-Salât (Iqamât-as-Salât) from mid-day till the darkness of the night (i.e. the Zuhr, ‘Asr, Maghrib and ‘Ishâ’ prayers), and recite the Qur’ân in the early dawn (i.e. the morning prayer). Verily, the recitation of the Qur’ân in the early dawn is ever witnessed (attended by the angels in charge of mankind of the day and the night).
Allah also says:
Verily, As-Salât (the prayer) is enjoined on the believers at fixed hours.
It is also confirmed that Buraydah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that a man asked about the times of the Salah, and the Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him:
"Pray with us for these two (days)." When the sun disappeared (beyond the meridian), he ordered Bilal to call the Adhan (call to prayer), then he ordered him to pronounce the Iqamah (call to start the prayer) for the Zhuhr (Noon) Prayer. He ordered him to call the Iqamah for the `Asr (Afternoon) Prayer when the sun was still high, white, and clear. Then he ordered him to call the Iqamah for the Maghrib Prayer when the sun had set. Then he ordered him to call the Iqamah for the `Isha' Prayer when the twilight had disappeared. Then he ordered him to call the Iqamah for the Fajr Prayer when the dawn had appeared. On the second day, he (peace be upon him) told him (Bilal) to delay the Zhuhr Prayer until the extreme heat had passed and he delayed it for a long while. He prayed the `Asr Prayer when the sun was high, delaying it beyond the time he had previously prayed it. He prayed the Maghrib Prayer before the twilight had disappeared, and he prayed the `Isha' Prayer when one third of the night had passed; and he prayed the Fajr Prayer (Part No. 6; Page No. 132) when it was bright. Then he (peace be upon him) said, 'Where is the person asking about the time of the Salah?' The man said, 'Here I am, O Messenger of Allah!' The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, 'The times of your Salah are between what you have seen.'"
It is related on the authority of
`Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn Al-`As that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
The time for the Zhuhr Prayer is when the sun has disappeared (past the meridian) and a man's shadow is the same (length) as his height, (and it lasts) as long as the `Asr Prayer has not become due. The time for the `Asr Prayer is as long as the sun has not become yellow (pale). The time for the Maghrib Prayer is as long as the twilight has not disappeared. The time for the `Isha' Prayer is until the middle of the night. The time of the Subh (Fajr) Prayer is from the appearance of the dawn, until the sun has risen; but when the sun rises, refrain from offering the Salah, as it rises between the horns of the devil."
Muslim in his Sahih book of Hadith)
There are many other Hadith that mention the determining of the times of the five obligatory prayers, based on words and actions. They did not make any distinction if the night and day are long or short, as long as the times of prayers are marked by the signs specified by the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).This is with regard to the times of the Salah. With regard to (Part No. 6; Page No. 133) the timings for Sawm (fasting) in Ramadan, those who are Mukallaf (person meeting the conditions to be held legally accountable for their actions) should refrain from food, drink, and everything that breaks the Sawm every day of Ramadan, from the appearance of dawn until the sun sets in their own countries, as long as the night can be distinguished from the day in their country, and when added up they equal twenty-four hours. It is permissible for them to eat, drink, have sexual intercourse, etc. Just during the night, even if it is short. The Shari`ah is universal and applies to all people in all countries. Allah (Exalted be He) says,
...and eat and drink until the white thread (light) of dawn appears to you distinct from the black thread (darkness of night), then complete your Saum (fast) till the nightfall.
Anyone who is unable to complete the Sawm because the day is too long, or knows by means of signs; experience; or the advice of a competent trustworthy doctor; or thinks it probable that performing the Sawm will lead to their demise, make them severely ill, make their sickness worse, or will impede their recovery; may break their Sawm but must make up for the missed days in any month when they can make them up. Allah (Exalted be He) says,
So whoever of you sights (the crescent on the first night of) the month (of Ramadan i.e. is present at his home), he must observe Saum (fasts) that month, and whoever is ill or on a journey, the same number [of days which one did not observe Saum (fasts) must be made up] from other days.
Allah also says,
Allâh burdens not a person beyond his scope.
He also says that He,
...and He has not laid upon you in religion any hardship
Those who live in a country in which the sun does not set during the summer (Part No. 6; Page No. 134) and does not rise during the winter, or live in a country in which the day lasts for six months and the night lasts for six months, for example, have to perform five Salahs in every twenty-four hours. They should determine their times using the nearest country in which the times of the five Salahs can be distinguished from one another. This is confirmed in the Hadith of the Isra’ (Night Journey) and Mi`raj (Ascension to Heaven) during which Allah enjoined on this Ummah (nation) fifty Salahs in every day and night. The Prophet (peace be upon him) kept asking his Lord to reduce the number until Allah said:
O Muhammad, they are five Salahs every day and night, and each Salah has the reward of ten, that is fifty Salahs…”
It is confirmed in the Hadith related on the authority of Talhah ibn `Ubaydullah (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said,
A man from Najd, with unkempt hair, came to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and we heard his loud voice but could not comprehend what he was saying, until he approached the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). We knew that he was asking about Islam. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, '(You have to offer) five Salahs every day and night.' The man asked, 'Do I have to do other than that?' The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said, 'No, unless you want to offer voluntary Salahs…'"
It is related in a Hadith on the authority of
Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said,
We were forbidden to ask the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) about anything and it pleased us (Part No. 6; Page No. 135) when an intelligent Bedouin came and asked him a question and we could listen. So, a Bedouin came and said, 'O Muhammad! Your messenger came to us and claimed that you claim that Allah sent you (as a Messenger).' He said, 'True.' … The man said, 'And your messenger claimed that we have to offer five Salahs in a day and a night.' The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, 'True.' The man said, 'By the One Who sent you! Did Allah order you to do that?' He said, 'Yes.'"…
It is confirmed that the Prophet (peace be upon him) told his Sahabah (Companions) about Al-Masih Al-Dajjal (the Antichrist). He was asked how long he would stay on the earth, and he said,
"Forty days, one day like a year, one day like a month, one day like a week and the rest of his days like your days.” It was said, “O Messenger of Allah! The day that is like a year, will it be sufficient for us then to pray the Salahs of one day?” He said, “No, estimate them.”
So a day that is like a year is not considered as one day in which only five prayers will be sufficient, instead the Prophet (peace be upon him) obligated them to offer five prayers in every twenty-four hours. He ordered them to distribute them into their timed intervals, as those between their times on regular days in their countries.It is therefore obligatory on the Muslims in the countries mentioned in the question to determine the times of prayers in their countries within each twenty-four hours, based on the closest country to them in which the night can be distinguished from the day and where the times of the five prayers are known according to the signs given in the Islamic Shari`ah. (Part No. 6; Page No. 136) Similarly, it is obligatory on them to fast the month of Ramadan and they can determine the time for their Sawm and the beginning and end of Ramadan and the times of starting and breaking the Sawm every day by the times of the breaking of the dawn and the setting of the sun every day in the closest country to them, in which the night can be distinguished from day. The total period must add up to twenty-four hours, based on the Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) about Al-Masih Al-Dajjal (the Antichrist) mentioned above, in which he guided his Sahabah on how to determine the times of the five obligatory prayers. There is no difference in this regard between Sawm and Salah.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.